SO WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?
So what are essential oils and why are they so effective? Plants produce essential oils to protect them from bacteria and fungus and to deter insects. In a nutshell, they are the immune system of the plant that protects it from disease and environmental elements while also helping it to heal and recover from disease. The extracted oils from the seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers, fruit, etc. actually embody the regenerating, protective and immune-strengthening properties of plants. In humans, they help to promote emotional, physical and spiritual healing.
Essential oils are not a new phenomenon though – they’ve been around for over 4000 years and were first used by the ancient Egyptians for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes. My ancestors knew their stuff! They were also mentioned in the Bible (frankincense was more expensive than gold due to its highly regarded therapeutic properties).
HOW DO ESSENTIAL OILS WORK?
When extracted using efficient methods, essential oils can help us to get our bodies back to balance (a state called homeostasis) and start to heal because they act on the cellular level by penetrating the cell membranes. Essential oils are approximately 50-70 times more powerful than herbs and consequently more effective. In fact, studies have shown that the chemical constituents of essential oils are so powerful, they have the potential to affect every cell in the body within 20 minutes of application and they then metabolize like other nutrients in the body. More simply, since they are biologically active, they work to bring all your systems in line so your body can do what it is meant to – heal itself.
I was introduced to essential oils 3 years ago when I was struggling with hay fever, chronic, stress-induced asthma and having a lot of trouble getting even a few solid hours of uninterrupted sleep. A friend of mine gave me a couple of different samples and blends to use – and the rest, as they say, is history. I was completely blown away at how effective they were. Just knowing they were a natural remedy for my ailments was extremely comforting.
I decided to learn more and started to use more oils and blends for my moods, for my daughter’s skin issues, my son’s sports injury and post-op recovery, my youngest son’s constipation issues, and my older daughter’s monthly cramps. With each instance, I was able to find an oil and/or blend that helped to alleviate all these issues in a safe and natural way. Even my husband, the eternal skeptic, was finally convinced that they really do work.
IMPORTANCE OF PURITY
Unfortunately, not all essential oils on the market are 100% pure. Why is that important you may ask? Because the therapeutic properties of essential oils are only exhibited if they are extracted in the right way and are free from pesticides, chemical additives, preservatives, synthetic fillers or other contaminants. Regrettably, the market is not currently regulated sufficiently so you will struggle to know which ones are pure and which ones are drowning in additives. One final important point to note is that only certified, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils will produce the expected therapeutic results.
The company I currently use has a rigorous testing protocol that includes intensive third party testing of every bottle of every single batch of essential oil produced. They also source the essential oils from their natural habitat where they are indigenously grown. This is to ensure that the chemical compounds of the plants are the same (having been cultivated and harvested in the optimum conditions) and have the same therapeutic properties without side effects.
HOW CAN ESSENTIAL OILS BE USED?
Essential oils can be used three ways: aromatically, topically and internally.
Aromatically: the fastest and most effective way essential oils work is by inhaling them – their chemical structure allows them to reach the limbic system quickly, which affects your mood and emotions. Inhale the essential oil/s directly from the bottle, apply a couple of drops to the palm of your hand, rub together and inhale or diffuse in an ultrasonic diffuser (not an oil burner).
Topically: Apply essential oils topically to the area of concern or to reflex points is recommended. Common areas are the soles of the feet (especially for children or those with skin sensitivities), the back of the neck, along the forearms and the skin between the thumb and forefinger. But remember, with essential oils, less is more. To help with absorption and to spread the oil over a larger surface area, use a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil (fat removed so it remains liquid at room temperature and has no scent), olive or almond oil. This is called dilution but it doesn’t dilute the efficacy of the essential oil. Dilution with a carrier oil is recommended for young children and those with sensitive skin.
Internally: Taking essential oils internally is another effective way to absorb them into the body for overall wellness. While essential oils have been long been considered dangerous to be taken internally, recent studies have found that it is safe to ingest some essential oils – these are usually labeled as safe to ingest. The best way to take them internally is by taking them in a veggie cap or adding a drop or two into a glass of water, or other drink (glass is recommended over plastic as the oils may cause the harmful chemicals in plastic to leech into your water or drink). Always read the label first and remember that not all essential oils are pure and therapeutic grade.
For a more natural alternative to healing - essential oils are definitely the way to go.
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